1848-1904; bulk: 1861-1889
Guide to the Collection
Funding for the digitization of this collection and the creation of preservation microfilm was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act grant as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
Representative digitized documents from this collection:
Restrictions on Access
Use of the originals is restricted. This collection is available as color digital facsimiles (see links below). Black and white microfilm is also available for use in the library.
This collection consists of the papers of Frederick N. Knapp of Plymouth, Mass., clergyman, teacher, and superintendent of the Special Relief Department, U.S. Sanitary Commission, during the Civil War.
Frederick Newman Knapp (1821-1889)
Frederick N. Knapp was born in Jamaica Plain, Mass. on 19 Nov. 1821, the son of Jacob Newman Knapp and Louisa (Bellows) Knapp. In 1822, the family moved to Walpole, N.H. Knapp graduated from Harvard in 1843 and Harvard Divinity School in 1847. He was a Unitarian minister in Brookline, Mass. from 1847-1855, but had to step down after he was badly injured in an omnibus accident. During the Civil War, he served as superintendent of the Special Relief Department, U.S. Sanitary Commission. The Commission was organized in 1861 to assist sick and wounded Union soldiers, and the Special Relief Department focused on helping soldiers return to civilian life and supporting disabled veterans and their families. After the war, Knapp preached in Yonkers, N.Y. and then in Plymouth, Mass. from 1869-1874. In 1867, he founded a Home School for Boys (first in Sutton, Mass., then Plymouth). He was also chairman of the Plymouth School Committee and an honorary member of the Grand Army of the Republic. In 1855, Knapp married Lucia Alden Bradford, and the couple had four children: Louisa Bellows Knapp, Frederick Bradford Knapp, Sarah Perkins Knapp, and Maria Bradford Knapp. He died on 12 Jan. 1889.
Henry Bromfield Rogers (1802-1887)
Henry B. Rogers was the son of Boston merchant Daniel Denison Rogers. He graduated from Harvard in 1822 and Litchfield (Conn.) Law School in 1823. He practiced law in Boston for a few years, then became a philanthropist, working with many charitable and educational organizations. During the Civil War, he served as a relief agent with the U.S. Sanitary Commission, helping sick and wounded Union soldiers. In 1832, Rogers married Anna Powell Mason Perkins, and they had one daughter, Annette Perkins Rogers.
This collection consists of the papers of Frederick N. Knapp of Plymouth, Mass., clergyman, teacher, and superintendent of the Special Relief Department, U.S. Sanitary Commission, during the Civil War. Included are personal and professional letters, as well as orders, vouchers, receipts, reports, and printed matter related to Knapp's work with the commission. The papers document general aid to soldiers, battlefield relief, burial of the dead, care of the dying, provisions for sick and wounded soldiers and prisoners, aid to discharged soldiers, work on transports and at hospitals, and many other subjects.
Among the correspondents are J. B. Abbott, John A. Anderson, George A. Blake, James Freeman Clarke, Thomas Hill, William A. Hovey, Frederick Law Olmstead, and many others, including soldiers and their families. Knapp family members represented include Knapp's wife Lucia (Bradford) Knapp, his brother Francis Bellows Knapp, his son Frederick Bradford Knapp, and his cousins Henry W. Bellows and Susan Newman Knapp. The collection also contains letters to Amy M. Bradley; Knapp's unpublished manuscript for his "History of the Special Relief Department"; miscellaneous notes and extracts on the work of the U.S. Sanitary Commission; and correspondence and diaries (1861-1864) of Henry B. Rogers, relief agent for the commission.
Correspondence in the 1870s and 1880s relates primarily to family matters and to Knapp's work as a teacher and founder of Mr. Knapp's Home School for Boys in Plymouth, Mass.
Oversize papers in this collection have been removed to an oversize folder (in drawers) but are digitized at their original location.
Acquired by purchase, 1964.
Restrictions on Access
The collection is also available on microfilm, P-801 (3 reels). See the Microfilm Reel List below.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Correspondence, etc., 1848-1889digital content
This series consists of the professional, personal, and family correspondence of Frederick N. Knapp; correspondence of Henry B. Rogers; orders, vouchers, receipts, reports, printed matter, and other papers related to the U.S. Sanitary Commission; and newspaper clippings. Among the correspondents are J. B. Abbott, John A. Anderson, George A. Blake, John S. Blatchford, Emma J. Brintzinghoffer, John B. Burns, James Freeman Clarke, G. R. Davis, Darius Forbes, Elisha Harris, William A. Hovey, Julia McCarthy, Edward B. Northrop, Frederick Law Olmstead, Louise A. Webster, and many others, including soldiers and their families.
Knapp family members represented in this series include Knapp's wife Lucia (Bradford) Knapp, his brother Francis Bellows Knapp, his son Frederick Bradford Knapp, and his cousin Henry W. Bellows. The series also contains letters to "the soldiers' friend," Miss Amy M. Bradley; letters to Knapp's cousin Susan Newman Knapp; and correspondence between Knapp and Thomas Hill, his Harvard classmate and president of Harvard.
II. History of the Special Relief Department, U.S. Sanitary Commission, [1865-1867]digital content
This series contains Frederick N. Knapp's unpublished manuscript on the work of the Special Relief Department, U.S. Sanitary Commission. The manuscript consists of draft pages describing various aspects of the Commission, including edits and annotations. Some portions are written in other hands, including J. B. Abbott's.
III. Notes and extracts, 1864-1904digital content
This series includes notes by Lucia (Bradford) Knapp on the life and work of her husband Frederick N. Knapp; unidentified miscellaneous notes on Civil War hospitals; and an undated manuscript containing copies of correspondence, extracts of reports, and other material related to Dr. George A. Blake and the work of the U.S. Sanitary Commission in Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama, 1862-1865. The manuscript is in Blake's handwriting, and a cover sheet includes the note: "Part used by Mr. Knapp."
IV. Henry B. Rogers diaries, 1861-1864digital content
This series consists of the Civil War diaries of Henry Bromfield Rogers, agent for the U.S. Sanitary Commission, documenting his work distributing supplies and providing assistance to soldiers. Included are observations of the sick and dying, names of wounded and discharged men, and descriptions of camp life and daily activities. The two draft volumes contain notes Rogers used to write fuller entries in the diaries.
V. Oversize papers
NOTE: Oversize papers from Series I-IV have been removed to an oversize folder (in drawers) but are digitized at their original location.
Microfilm Reel List
Frederick Newman Knapp papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.